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Healthy and unrestricted from the self-imposed rules that governed him with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters — and in the beginning with the Los Angeles Angels — the baseball world is now witnessing Shohei Ohtani unleashed, writes The New York Times’ Scott Miller.

Ohtani has frequently been referred to as the Japanese Babe Ruth, and in Texas on April 26, he became the first American or National League player since Ruth, on June 13, 1921, to start a game on the mound while leading his league in home runs.

Last Tuesday, Ohtani struck out 10 on the mound, singled at the plate and played right field, again in Houston. And on Monday in California, he took the outright lead in the MLB home run race with his 13th long bomb of the season. And the Ohtani show’s only just started.

Is Shohei Ohtani the strongest MVP candidate on the Angels? | GET UP | ESPN
Is Shohei Ohtani the strongest MVP candidate on the Angels? | GET UP | ESPN

Meanwhile over in Chiba, “Reiwa’s Monster” finally made landfall Sunday, as much-hyped pitcher Roki Sasaki finally made his NPB debut for the Marines against the Seibu Lions. As Jason Coskrey reports, it was an encouraging start, though not a fairy-tale one.

Also in The Week in NPB, read about the first “Maddux” in NPB since 2017 and the 2,000th game of NPB’s most storied rivalry (currently 1,095-836-71).

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